Career Change from Accounting to Marketing in 5 Practical steps

You’re probably burnt out, unhappy, and ready to seek a new career path as an accountant. Perhaps you’re considering a career change to Marketing and wondering what is required.

In this article, I discuss five practical steps you can take to help you successfully transition from accounting to engineering that is:

  • Research and validate Marketing as a career path
  • Network with Marketing professionals with an Accounting background
  • Get trained and qualified
  • Get relevant experience
  • Update professional assets

Let’s begin!

#1. Research and Validate You Want A Career In Marketing

Marketing is a great career path because it is creative, attracts good salaries, enjoys great job security, numerous growth opportunities and good opportunities for career advancement.

However, before you start your career transition journey, it is important to confirm that this is the career for you.

Marketing is a relatively straightforward career to transition into, but switching careers, especially if you do not already have some marketing experience, can be a roller coaster of anxiety.

To validate your career choice in marketing, you need to understand what marketers do and the different areas of marketing. This gives you some ideas on what is expected and helps you assess if this is the right career for you.

What do Marketers Do?

Marketers are professionals responsible for developing and executing strategies to promote brands, products and services to consumers.

They monitor market trends and create content, advertisements, marketing campaigns and target demographics based on their market trend research.

Most marketing roles can be classified as either being digital marketing or traditional marketing. In today’s world, digital marketing is the most common form.

 Some responsibilities for a typical marketer include:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Creating and running advertisement campaigns
  • Capturing sales leads
  • Monitoring market trends

What are the different areas of marketing?

Marketing can be broadly classified into two different types (digital and traditional). There are many different areas of marketing that one can specialize in.

  • Research Marketing: Marketers research market trends and customers in order to make choices on what a brand’s marketing actions should be when promoting products.

    They also track ads, monitor campaign performances and roll out customer satisfaction surveys.
  • Communications Marketing: Marketers handle effective marketing communications projects to convey the right message about a brand and its products to customers.

    They design and run ads, handle press releases and script messages.
  • Brand Management: This involves marketing a brand and its products to ensure consistency and integrity during campaigns.
  • Direct Marketing: Marketers are in charge of targeting and keeping up to date with potential customers by personalizing messages, emails, newsletters and leaflets.
  • Public Relations: Marketers are tasked with enhancing and protecting the perceived image of a brand by the media. They often write press releases, organize corporate events and handle complaints or bad press.
  • Strategy: Marketers in this role are usually senior-level professionals that oversee and coordinate all other areas of marketing.

Now you understand the different types of marketing roles and their responsibilities, you need to reflect and check if those responsibilities align with your expectation.

If the sound of the above responsibilities sounds exciting, then let’s proceed. If not, not to worry. There are potential career paths for Accountants like becoming a teacher or transitioning to IT.

#2. Network with Marketing Professionals with an Accounting Background

Once you’ve confirmed that Marketing is certainly the career for you, you need to speak with marketing professionals who have a similar background in accounting.

Why is this important? Changing careers is not an easy journey. I did it four times, and I know how challenging it was. The uncertainties and self-doubts!

Speaking to someone who understands your journey and has been where you are is hugely refreshing.

You can share challenges, ask for pro tips and potentially request mentoring.

A mentor will have more experience than you in the field of marketing and will be able to provide personalized guidance to you.

They can share insight on the best programs to enrol in or qualifications to earn; they can also share their ideas and can even alert you of any mistakes to avoid when preparing to make this transition.

A good rule of thumb before meeting with any professionals is to have already drafted a list of possible questions to ask them. You can try asking what they love about marketing or even what they hate. 

Working hours, work-life balance, and compensation are some other great questions to ask.

Their insight will help you paint a clearer picture of how possible it is to change from a career in finance to marketing and will also alert you of all the good and bad things to expect with this career change.

Networking will help you in job hunting, career development, relationship building and resource sharing. And since you’re just beginning in the field, networking can help you get your foot in the door even if you do not have professional experience.

If you’re wondering where you can find these professionals, here are some ideas:

  • Facebook groups: search for groups dedicated to marketing professionals. Join the group and friendly ask the group for anyone with an accounting background.

    Be honest and share you are looking to transition to become a Marketer and are looking for someone with some tips.

    Reach out privately to whoever responds to your message and build the relationship further.
  • LinkedIn: Search for marketers and use the filter to find engineers with unique qualifications or experiences that tie them to accounting.

    Send a connection request with an added note asking for tips and advice.
  • Forums: Go on Quora and Reddit forums that have a congregation of marketers and reach out privately to anyone willing to share their knowledge with you.

#3. Get Training And Qualifications in Marketing

As I said earlier, a marketing career is great and straightforward because you don’t necessarily need a formal degree to break in. What does this mean?

For example, a person can break into social media marketing by having a good and active amount of followers.

Content creation, audience engagement, and keeping up with and following trends are not things that require a degree to be good at.

Social media has made a new avenue for people to get into marketing.

That said, some organisations will require you have some form of marketing degree before they can consider you.

The minimum educational requirement for an entry-level position in marketing is usually a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing, public relations, advertising, communications or other related fields.

You probably already have a bachelor’s degree, in which case you only have to show you possess relevant marketing knowledge.

I recommend enrolling on an online marketing training and qualification program.

Coursera offers professional certificates in marketing, such as Social Media Marketing and Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate backed by Meta (Facebook).

They are solid certificates and will provide you with the knowledge and skills to launch a marketing career in a short space of time.

The great part is that no previous experience or degree is required, and it is much cheaper than completing a full degree and free in some other instance.

#4. Acquire Marketing Experience.

Acquiring marketing knowledge is great, but the sad truth is employers don’t care much about your knowledge.

What they care about is how your knowledge can create value for their business. This is why it is important to have relevant experience to demonstrate you can create value.

The best way to acquire work experience is by indicating interest in the marketing department of your current organization, if they have one.

Working alongside the marketing department will give you experience and possibly lead to a lateral promotion to the marketing department.

 Volunteering to shadow one or more marketing professionals already working in the field and assist them with their daily tasks. This is another area where networking will prove very useful to you.

When networking with these professionals, do not be afraid to indicate that you wouldn’t mind shadowing them at their jobs. You would be surprised at the number of people who enjoy teaching and mentoring opportunities.

Decide on a setting you will be comfortable working in and ask your network if any of them are willing to have you. Remember that there are different areas of marketing, so ideally, you should try approaching a professional that works in an area or areas that interest you.

Another idea is to find and approach a small business in your local area. Pitch them your service for free. Apply your marketing knowledge to that business by promoting them on various channels.

Make sure you get results because once the results come in, they become solid experience references moving forward. You can ask the business owner to leave good reviews for you.

Another great thing is that your work experience will give you a more personal look into the day to day happenings of the field and may serve to harden your resolve.

#5. Update Your Professional Brand Assets

At this point, you have all the ingredients required to build and update your professional brand assets.`

Your professional brand assets are your CV, your LinkedIn profile, and your personal website.

I call them professional brand assets because they are resources that you own and control that are able to provide you with a future economic benefit, i.e. a job as a Marketing professional.

Building and polishing these professional assets will position you and make you attractive to recruiters and hiring managers.

  • Your CV/Resume: Take all your newly acquired knowledge, skills, and experience and include them in your resume in a way that fits the requirements of a Business Analyst.

    Analyze at least 10 Marketing live job vacancies that you would like to apply to. Review the requirements, i.e. the section that says ‘your responsibilities’ or says ‘in this role, we are looking for….’

    This is essentially the business telling you what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. Analyzing 10-15 vacancies will uncover some patterns and keywords.

    Ensure these keywords are featured on your CV/Resume.
Pro tip: Matching your CV/resume to actual job roles is a great way to get through the ATS (Application Tracking System) system. 

Your CV is an effective way to show employers how you will be a great asset for the position you’re applying for.

  • Your LinkedIn Profile: Most recruiters and hiring managers use Linkedin to fill job positions. Actually, Over 90% of them do this!

    At the very minimum, make sure the information on your Linkedin profile matches what is on your CV.

    As someone moving into a new career as an engineer, it’s also important to let recruiters know that you’re open to hiring and looking for new opportunities.

    Connect with recruiters and follow mentors and new colleagues on Linkedin.

    Optimize the headline section of your profile by listing major skills that will be required in your new profession.

    Also, optimize the summary section of your profile by highlighting your work experience, certifications, technical skills, and expertise.
  • Your Personal Websites: Your personal website gives you the opportunity to show your work rather than just talk about it.

    In today’s competitive employment market, job searchers must do all they can to differentiate themselves from the competition, and having a personal website is one of the most effective methods to do so.

    I believe in the philosophy of showing, not telling. Marketing is largely about building brands and what better way to advertise yourself than your personal website.

Bonus Tip: Take Action

Changing careers will always be a scary and daunting thing to follow through, but the good news is that it is very doable.

Make time to further research the areas available within the profession and determine which area best suits your interests, personality, skillsets and wants.

Now that you’ve decided that an accounting career is no longer for you and you’re interested in pursuing a marketing career, it’s time to follow all the tips listed in this guide. 

Be committed to making this career change actual reality. Be confident in yourself but not arrogant. Motivate yourself and surround yourself with like-minded people who are ready to support you.

After using this guide to draft your action plan, the only thing that’s left for you to do is to focus and give it your best. 

Need to do more research into the field? Start now. Need to decide the best course of action for you? Run it by your network and make a decision already. Connect with professionals in the field and start acquiring all the work experience you’ll need as soon as possible.

Be patient with yourself, but also give yourself a timeframe for achieving this dream of yours.

Final thoughts

Changing careers can be a challenging and overwhelming process. In this article, I have explained five practical steps that you can follow to transition from accounting to a marketing career.

Start with validating your choice of a marketing career path. Network with marketing professionals with similar accounting backgrounds. Get qualified by registering for a professional marketing certificate.

Acquire relevant experience using creative ways discussed above and once you’ve done that, update your professional brand assets.

Don’t forget to take action.

To your success 🍷